As any farmer’s market shopper will know, eating produce that’s in season is exponentially tastier. Since cannabis is a plant it makes sense that you’d want to enjoy it in peak season. It’s important to know when is the best time of the year to splurge on premium weed and when the extra cost won’t make much of a difference.
Cannabis plants are in the Cannabaceae family and flowers in late summer into fall in nature. Outdoor cultivators plant in spring and plants begin growing leaves, stalks, and buds within a few months in the vegetative stage. According to Leafly, summer solstice triggers the flowering phase with bushies leaves, flowers and buds forming. Like with many flowering plants, plants give many sensory and visual cues when they’re ready for harvest. Harvest occurs in the fall when buds are trimmed and dried.
Indica strains generally flower more quickly than sativas. Plants that are harvested earlier may have a lighter flavor and produce more of a brain high while buds left on the plant longer may produce a body high and have a deeper, richer flavor. Flavor also depends on drying techniques and varietal. Of course, cannabis varieties flower at slightly different times and some strains have been bred to flourish in different growing climates or even indoors.
But for indoor growers, it can be a challenge to know when is the best time to enjoy your bud. One helpful shortcut for growers without much of a green thumb is to purchase an autoflowering plants or cannabis ruderalis. These strains can flower as soon as two months after planting. These plants tend to be smaller and more slender than other cannabis varieties and tend to have lower THC content. Despite these potential drawbacks, the ease of cultivating these plants surely makes up for their smaller stature and somewhat diminished potency.
If you’re a more ambitious home gardener, cultivating a seasonal plant more care must be taken to harvest the best bud. Seasonal cannabis plants need twelve hours of darkness which replicates the night. During the flowering stage, some cannabis plants can nearly double in size. Indoor cannabis plants thrive when their environments mimic nature – that includes fresh, moving air, nutritious soil, adequate water, and cycles of light and darkness. Growing websites like the aptly named, I Love Growing Marijuana, suggest the plants need total darkness which can be achieved with a blackout sheet or tarp. Certain plants may need longer than twelve hours of darkness to reach maturity.
Cannabis plants change color from green to orange, mauve, brown or scarlet. The hair-like pistils of the cannabis plant will also become visible and change from white to darker shades. Resin is produced in mature plants and cannabis will become sticky and have that telltale weed smell. Plants produce other visual cues to indicate maturity and readiness to harvest. As with any plant, cultivating indoor cannabis can take trial and error before you produce dispensary-worthy goods.